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Local Trainers helping people with intellectual disabilities get physically fit

"Fitness is for everyone," trainer Keelin Russell said. "Health is so important for anyone to have self-confidence. We all feel better."

ST CHARLES, Mo. — At Emerge Fitness in St. Charles, something's about to break.

That something is a sweat.

Welcome to the afternoon class of Emerge Everyone.

"We provide free fitness classes to people with intellectual disabilities," trainer Keelin Russell said.

Every Saturday, professional trainers volunteer their time for both group and individual fitness sessions to a population that often doesn't have access to this kind of training.

"Fitness is for everyone," Russell said. "Health is so important for anyone to have self-confidence. We all feel better."

And like everyone else, a healthy outside begins from the inside.

"I've known Morgan going on 10-plus years now and she's got motivation in her heart," trainer Kody Welker said about his student Morgan Mummert. "And during these Saturday workouts is the hardest I've ever seen her work and the most fun, I've seen her have."

Since the training began 18 months ago, Lori Smelick has not missed a single workout.

"She's coming from a place where she's not very verbal, "Russell tells us. "She has a hard time advocating for herself or telling you what's going on or how she's feeling."

And she was just getting over hip surgery.

But with every session, Lori kept going and growing. In both strength and confidence.

Once painfully shy and timid, when she's done with a workout now she goes around and gives a high five to everyone in the gym.

"She's so happy to be here, "says Russell with a smile.

For Morgan and Kody instead of high five's, it's a special handshake which they showed off.

The hope is, as word gets around, Emerge Everyone will be able to hold more classes for more clients.

"You can ask the other trainers that are involved in here, it really does allow us to find that sense of joy in here again," adds Welker.

Breaking down barriers and creating opportunities. One small program getting big results.

Click here to make a donation for Emerge Everyone.

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